How to Build a Side Table/Night Stand

In just a weekend's worth of time, you can make a piece of furniture that offers additional storage and decorative possibilities beside your favorite reading chair or your bed. When topped with a lamp, vase of flowers and other decor, you can transform an average crate into a beautiful showpiece.

Turn a wooden crate into a useful nightstand as a weekend project. (Image: Carrie Waller)

Things You'll Need

Start by laying out your supplies. (Image: Carrie Waller)
  • Wooden crate
  • 2 3/4-by-48-inch wooden dowel rods
  • Ruler
  • Handheld hack saw
  • Miter box
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Electric drill
  • 11/64-inch drill bit
  • 4 #12 1-3/4-inch Phillips flat-head screws
  • Stubby, manual Phillips screwdriver
  • Wood stain
  • 2-inch foam brush
  • Utility paper towels

Step 1: Cut Dowel Rods to Make the Legs

Turn dowel rods into nightstand legs by cutting them to size with a hack saw. (Image: Carrie Waller)

This nightstand measures 22 inches in height. Taking into account the crate's 9-inch-wide opening, the dowel rods, used to make the legs, need to measure 13-inches long. Use a ruler to make marks every 13 inches on the dowel rods, and then cut them to size with a handheld hack saw and miter box. Set the excess wood aside, and sand the sawed ends with 120-grit sandpaper.

Before attaching the wooden dowels, inspect the crate for weak spots and sand the rough parts of the wood.

Step 2: Mark the Leg Holes

Mark each of the four leg holes on the crate with a ruler and pencil. (Image: Carrie Waller)

Choose one of the crate's long sides as the nightstand's underside. Then, with a ruler and pencil, mark a hole 2-inches in from the edge at each corner. These marks are where the legs will be attached.

Step 3: Drill Holes Into the Crate

Drill holes for the legs with a drill bit. (Image: Carrie Waller)

Outfit a handheld electric drill with an 11/64-inch drill bit and drill the marked holes on the crate's side. Brush away the wood dust.

Step 4: Drill Holes Into the Dowels

Drill holes into the tops of each of the four dowel legs. (Image: Carrie Waller)

Drill holes into the top of each of the dowel rods.

Step 5: Attach the Hardware

Screw in the hardware first. (Image: Carrie Waller)

Screw 4 #12, 1-3/4-inch, Phillips flat-head screws through the drilled holes from the inside of the crate. Use your stubby-handled, manual screwdriver for this step because of the limited interior space inside the crate. Make sure the screws are twisted all the way through the crate.

Step 6: Attach the Legs

Screw the legs onto the hardware. (Image: Carrie Waller)

With your manual screwdriver securely fixed inside the crate on the head of the screw, use your free hand to twist each dowel rod in place.

Step 7: Stain the Assembled Piece

Stain the legs to match the crate. (Image: Carrie Waller)

Lightly sand the crate and legs to remove any rough spots first. Then, brush on a coat of wood stain with your foam brush. Choose a stain that most closely matches the existing finish of your vintage crate. If you purchased a new, unfinished crate, coat the entire nightstand with stain.

Allow the stain to soak into the wood for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then wipe it off with a utility paper towel. If desired, apply a second coat of stain for another 30 seconds. Set the nightstand on a drop cloth in a well-ventilated area, and allow it to dry for 24 hours.

Step 8: Decorate the Nightstand

Decorate the nightstand with your favorite bedside accessories. (Image: Carrie Waller)

Once dry, fill your new nightstand with books and other decorative accents.